Chester Lake Trail Closure | Information & Issues | Kananaskis Outdoors Forum

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Chester Lake Trail Closure
April 22, 2011
2:57 pm
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K Country is asking whether or not you would support a 4 week spring closure of Chester Lake trail in the Smith-Dorrien.

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April 22, 2011
3:42 pm
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For a minute there I thought we had become victims of shock journalism. 

 

I think this is an interesting idea. In general, I wouldn't be in favour of trail closures for reasons outside of wildlife considerations, but I'm finding myself more in agreement with this than against it. I went with my daughter to Ptarmigan Cirque last year as soon as the road opened; there was still a fair bit of snow up high and ice on the trail, and people were all over the map up there in fragile alpine terrain. 

 

I would support this as a pilot project (if it doesn't work, no point in restricting people needlessly; if it does, point made and let's keep doing it), but also as a way to educate people about the fragility of the alpine environment and the importance of reducing impact, particularly as more and more people are heading into the backcountry.

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April 23, 2011
9:31 am
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I support the annual spring closure plan, despite its inconvenience.  The Chester Lake Meadow is an area of great beauty that is used heavily during the warm Summer months by families for short walks and hikers passing through en route to/from The Fortress and other areas.  Trail braiding is an issue and the area is fragile, especially in Spring-early Summer.  We have to think not only of ourselves but of future generations.

The four-week closure plan appears rigid to me however as the necessary closure time would surely vary significantly from year to year, depending on weather.  Likewise, the start of the closure period would also vary from year to year,  Spring 2011 being a prime example!  I recognize however that such variations would have to be communicated to the public in an effective manner to avoid frustrations.  People using the Kananaskis Country on a regular basis usually access this website and Government websites where uptodate information is available.  One-time users going for an afternoon picnic generally don't.   

This brings up the issue of enforcement, an interesting one...

 

Gérard L

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April 24, 2011
8:41 am
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I don't love closures, but temporary ones that help the trail are okay with me. I know enough to stay on the trail, however snowy, and might consider it unfortunate to have a trail closed to me due to the damage of others, but such is pretty regularly the case. And when we're talking a couple weeks in the shoulder season, that isn't overly arduous either. So if it could make a difference to keep people out of the meadows, I would be okay with it.

I like the idea of a pilot project, mentioned above. If they could try it out for a couple years, and monitor the results, and then re-evaluate whether it helps, I'd be much more supportive than if they just implement a trail closure which keeps out only those conscientious enough to not have caused a problem in the first place and doesn't help the trail at all. 

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April 25, 2011
7:29 am
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Schroedl
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I agree any trail closure that helps protect the area around the trail that everyone goes out to see is a good one.  I would say yes.

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April 26, 2011
7:28 pm
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Allan and Angelique
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Gillean Daffern said:

K Country is asking whether or not you would support a 4 week spring closure of Chester Lake trail in the Smith-Dorrien.


 

I would agree with this as there is too much damage on this trail system already.

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April 27, 2011
3:37 pm
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My first question is -why do people bother hiking to Chester Lake, while there is still snow on the ground? There are hundreds of other trails and routes in K-Country, which are snow-free in May and June... so why go hiking in a high elevation, deep snowfall area near the continental divide?  Perhaps the trail reports on the K-Country websites are not clear enough or interesting enough to direct people to more appropriate and drier destinations during the shoulder seasons. Perhaps the guidebooks should be more clear about the best times of the year to hike a specific trail.

One of the reasons that the trail gets icy and is slow to melt in May/June is that people pack the snow down by post-holing their way up the trail while there is way too much snow.  If hikers didn't walk on the trail during the snow-melt period, then the trail would be clear of snow much earlier. Trail maintenance crews have already tried to keep people on the trail by placing sharp boulders and forest deadfall along the trail... thereby creating hazards for early season skiers.  Apparently this has not been effective enough.

I'm not usually in favour of trail closures, especially if the closures are for a specific period of time, rather than based on actual trail conditions. However, in this case, I would support a short term closure to prevent trail braiding on the meadows.  The effectiveness of such a closure should be monitored and the question should be revisited in a couple of years. If successful, would this mean that the rock and deadfall hazards could be removed to eliminate the hazard to early season skiers & snowshoers? 

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April 27, 2011
8:11 pm
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How would you "advertise" such a closure? If someone drives 1:45 to teh trailhead chances are they will ignore signage that appears to be semi-random.

 

I think you need to have alternatives to suggest to people or they will probably go anyways.

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May 3, 2011
2:34 pm
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I think people hike to Chester Lake when it has snow and other places don't because they simply don't know the other places. I have met a surprising number of people who have hiked occasionally for years and never bought a guidebook.

They've heard of Chester lake, or seen it mentioned on a website, and they just go out and do it - and don't have the knowledge to pick a better trail for the season.

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May 6, 2011
11:51 am
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wilibrord
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By all means close the trail to mitigate damage. K-country should have a better website directing people to drier more appropriate trails in the foothills.

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